A large majority in the European Parliament today supported a call to formally suspend accession talks with Ankara when the new constitution comes into force.
One year after the heinous coup attempt, the Turkish population is paying a heavy price with the government pursuing a wide-ranging purge against not only alleged followers of Fethullah Gülen, but also all critics of the government. 'If you are not with us, you are against us' is the credo applied by the Turkish government. Academics, mayors, university rectors, opposition politicians and journalists are all labelled as ‘terrorists’, if they dare to speak out against President Erdoğan’s policies. With the state of emergency in place, tens of thousands have been fired from one day to the next and 50,000 people are in prison – all without having the chance to defend themselves in court. Such blatant breaches of democratic standards and the rule of law in country which is a candidate for EU membership must also have consequences for EU-Turkey relations.
The European Parliament's lead negotiator on Turkey, S&D MEP Kati Piri said:
"It is clear that co-operation is needed with Turkey, but if the new constitution is implemented in a way that runs contrary to EU democratic standards, accession talks with the current Turkish government must be ended. The EU’s financial assistance, which is now directed to Ankara, should then be made available to directly support Turkish civil society – the people who believe in the EU as an anchor for reforms in their country."
This is the time to stand in solidarity with the millions of people in Turkey who believe in European values, with all those who dared to speak out during the referendum and with those who are marching from Ankara to Istanbul pleading for justice. The EU cannot remain silent over Ankara’s consistent and serious breaches of fundamental rights. In contrast, the current strategy of the European Commission and EU leaders seems to wait silently for things to improve in Turkey. This is not just feeding President Erdoğan’s authoritarianism; it also fuels Euroscepticism among the European population and sends the wrong signal to the other candidate countries in the Western Balkans. Waiting, pretending and looking away is not a smart policy. The European Parliament expects the EU to stand up for its own values.